The Ultimate Itinerary for the Captivating Island of Mallorca

Explore Mallorca in a weekend! This captivating island has everything you need for a relaxing getaway or unforgettable party crazed adventures. You can also feel like a true explorer when traversing the many caves hidden between breath-taking beaches.

Mallorca is a small and beautiful island in an archipelago in Spain called, Balearic Islands. The other Balearic islands are Ibiza, Menorca, Formentera, and Cabrera.
What I found to be the most intriguing thing about Mallorca is that it’s a truly multi-lingual island.

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Despite it being petite, the locals working in the tourist sector speak at least 3 languages, sometimes more! Some of the spoken languages are Spanish, English, German, French, Italian, and of course, Mallorquín. Yes, Mallorca has its own language, which I learned is a dialect deriving from Catalán, the language spoken in Cataluña (where Barcelona is).

Most street signs were written in all these languages. I was amazed by how many polyglots I met during my short stay in Mallorca. This is very uncommon for Spain, which makes this island stand out even more. As if the clear, blue Mediterranean ocean wasn’t attractive enough, now you know you won’t have any issues with communication when traveling on this island.

Where and What to Eat in Mallorca

Markets are the best way to try local food in Spain.

As expected on an island, seafood is fresh and everywhere. Markets are the best way to try local food in Spain. There are a few markets where you can choose fresh fish and have it grilled it right there and then. The most popular one is Mercat de Santa Catalina which is in Palma, near Plaza Mayor. It closes at 5pm every day and it’s closed on holidays. Another market in my list, that I, unfortunately, did not have a chance to visit is Mercado Gastronómico de San Juan. It seemed like the perfect place to try different types of food.

In the town of Sollér, I had a delicious and authentic meal with a breathtaking view of the mountains in a hidden alley. Service was outstanding at Bar Molino but I arrived for a late lunch/early dinner and had no problem finding a table outside. It got busier in the evening, so best make a reservation, especially during peak season.

Nightlife in Mallorca

There are plenty of cocktail bars to choose from in Palma. I had the chance to try a few, including Brassclub which had amazing cocktails and a very chill vibe. Havanna is also a cool cocktail bar in Palma. I especially loved the corky art in this bar but my favorite one is an Italian bar in Santa Catalina named Ventuno. I’m not a huge Aperol fan, I find it too bitter but Italians are such experts at mixing it that I absolutely loved the cocktails here. The food looked delicious as well but I did not try it. My only complaint is that I wish there was a dance floor or at least more space. Music was too good not to move but there was hardly any space to even stand in this bar.

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Potato quality selfie @ Havanna

Sometimes, it’s best to go with the flow, you’ll be amazed by where the night takes you. I found myself dancing the night away at an Irish pub! Right around the corner of Ventuno you’ll find Molly Mallone. Definitely not the place where I expected to listen to Latino and 90’s music but if you rather not pay the cover for a club, know you can party it up here, at least on a weekend. From here, we walked to a club in the area but I cannot recall the name (it was that kind of night). Never be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and meet new people. I ended up singing my heart out to THE Spice Girls song with a Dominican friend I made that night and following an Italian group of friends to the next club. C’est la vie!

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Cathedral in Palma

Lodging in Mallorca

If you want the Historic Centre to be within walking distance I recommend staying in Palma. There are quite a few bars and restaurants in the area, the Cathedral and beach boardwalk are within walking distance as well. If you’re worried about staying in a loud neighborhood, Palma is actually pretty calm and quiet at night. A downside is that if you’re looking to lay out at a beach, you’ll need to rent a bike or take the bus since the nearest beach is a small boat port.

Another popular area is  Santa Catalina which is a 30-40 minute walk back to Palma. There are also plenty of taxis and a bus that ends its route around 9pm. Portopí is next to the port, so the beach is not as beautiful as other ones in Mallorca, but it’s surrounded by restaurants and night clubs if you’re planning on partying it up.

I wish I would’ve stayed at least one night in either Port Sollér or Porto Cristo. These beaches are unrealistically beautiful but both locations are far from the action. So it really does depend on what kind of vacation you’re looking for and if you have a car since everything is a short drive away but buses are not as regular as in a big city.

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Porto Cristo

Best Day Trips in Mallorca

Sollér & Port Sóller are definitely worth the trip if you have at least one whole day to visit. The small and charming town of Sollér hosts the beautiful Església de Sant Bartomeu (Church of St. Bartomeu) designed by Joan Rubió, an Antoni Gaudí follower. Gaudí is best known for the Sagrada Familia, an enormously impressive church in Barçelona. I’ve become difficult to impress by churches in Europe, but the one in Sollér is so unique since it has Baroque, Gothic and even Modernist elements.

An easy and scenic way to get there is the Palma-Sollér train which departs from the historic center in Palma and arrives in the town of Sollér. The stop is right next to the church. You can find the timetable and prices here

The Caves are a must-see when in Mallorca!

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Mediterranean sea entering the Caves of Drach

Porto Cristo is a small yet beautiful beach next to the Caves of Drach. The Caves are a must-see when in Mallorca! They were formed from the entrance of the Mediterranean ocean. Their discovery dates back to the Middle Ages but they have been conditioned with en easy entrance and exit, as well as lights and stairs for visitor access.

I was at awe with the naturally made stalagmites from hundreds, possibly thousands, of years of water dripping from and onto the rocks. These rocky spikes went in all directions causing a perfect reflection in the calm Martel lake.

The tour includes a live classical music concert, as well as a boat ride along lake Martel, which is inside the caves. There’s a limited amount of tours available per day so make sure you plan ahead. You can arrive by bus, the cost from Palma as of 2019 was €8.65 one way. You can find the bus time table here. There are also tours departing from Palma that include transportation and entrance, they range around €40.

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Boat ride in the Caves of Drach

Here’s the list of all the locations I mentioned in this post, along with some other restaurants that were referred to me but I did not get a chance to try.

I visited during March, and even though it was sunny it was also windy, so it wasn’t perfect beach weather. The humidity made it quite chilly at night. On the other hand, it wasn’t peak season so I was able to enjoy Mallorca without being overwhelmed by other tourists. Whenever you visit, even if things don’t go as planned (as they rarely do) remember to appreciate the breathtaking views, delicious food, and friendly locals. Mallorca is a beautiful place and I’m sure you’ll agree, so always… BE PRESENT!

Follow me on Instagram @joyzcortez for more travel pics & ideas!

Why Budapest is the Best

Budapest is the top destination I recommend for travelers planning a Eurotrip. It excels at the best reasons to travel; delicious food, breathtaking views, great nightlife, and amazing street art. Even though I visited during the peak of the summer season, I found plenty of broad and gorgeous viewpoints, affordable local restaurants, and plenty of fun and free events.

First, I want to clarify the common misconception that Budapest is one city. This was definitely my understanding until I learned that Buda and Pest are separated by the Danube river and connected by stunning bridges. A simple way to distinguish them is that Buda is the side of town with the Castle District and Pest, which is pronounced “pesht”, is the one with the Ruin Bars, aka the fun part of town!

I really recommend booking a walking tour so as to hear all the amazing history behind every district and authentic castles. I took Generation Tours and was very pleased since the tour guide started by handing out a cheat sheet with some basic Hungarian:

Szia/Sziasztok = Hello
Jó napot = Good morning
Viszlát = Goodbye
Köszönöm = Thank you
Szeretlek = I love you
Jó = Good/Ok
Igen = Yes
Nem = No
Egészségedre = Cheers
Bor = Wine
Sör = Beer

Must-See Landmarks in Budapest

Fisherman’s Bastion

These are the best views of Pest! Fisherman’s Bastion overlooks the Danube River and the stunning Hungarian Parliament. AND where you can find free balconies to take some great pics from. It’s located in the Castle District in Buda from where a castle used to be, but now, as with any top tourist attraction, there are also some cafés in the area. These take up some of the viewpoints. I wouldn’t have minded sitting in the shade for a minute with the gorgeous views, enjoying an overpriced coffee or beer BUT there was a line to get a table being that I visited in August.

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Hungarian Parliament Building

The Parliament is located in Pest, but you get the best view from across the river in the Castle District in Buda. It is an enormous and gorgeous gothic building by the Danube river. Check out the website for up to date visiting hours and prices.

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Holocaust Memorial Along the Danube River

There are a few sculptures of shoes along the Danube River, in front of the Parliament Building. Their purpose is to remember all the Hungarian women, men and children killed whose bodies were thrown to the Danube river during WWII. It’s very emotional and definitely worth a visit.

St. Stephen’s Basilique

After traveling most of Europe, I see how overrated a lot of churches are. This is not the case with the beautiful St. Stephen’s Basilique. It’s located in the city center and it’s the biggest church in Budapest. It showcases classical concerts during peak seasons. I would have loved to give this a try if I had the time and money. It is also something to consider if you’re traveling in a large group since it becomes more affordable. 

Dracula Castle

Vajdahunyad Castle

AKA Dracula Castle! “Dracula’s character was most probably inspired by Vlad the Impaler, the 15th-century Transylvanian prince, also known as Vlad III Dracul of Wallachia, who was imprisoned by John Hunyadi in Vajdahunyad Castle for years.”(source) The castle is next to the famous Széchenyi Baths, for which I dedicated an entire post since Budapest Baths are a must no matter the season. Ironically, the castle is now an Agriculture Museum, but the surrounding park and the castle itself are both gorgeous and eerie. They date back over 100 years! Maybe that’s not impressive to Europeans, but coming from the “new continent”, it seems ancient to me.

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Living my best life in Pest

Liberty Bridge

If you’re visiting during the summer, you’ll be able to hang out and party ON the bridge. The city closes the bridge to vehicles for the weekend so locals can picnic, play music and games on the bridge. There’s local artists performing, as well as some hammocks hanging for your convenience. Stop by the market and get some cold beers or a bottle of wine to share, along with some snacks because there are no sellers on the bridge. Seems like a missed opportunity, but I’m guessing it has to do with this being a sort of new tradition.

“This is definitely one of those moments that will stay with me forever. “

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Chain Bridge

This beautiful stone-bridge is known for its lion statues. It is said that during the inauguration, a child noticed that the lions lacked tongues. So the architect decided to jump off the bridge after hearing about his unforgivable error because that’s a normal reaction (sarcastic tone). I’m sure this is just a rumor since other people say the tongues can be seen from above. Still, makes for a fun story.

Another thing worth mentioning about Chain Bridge is that locals enjoy the gorgeous sunset on the steps next to the bridge on the Pest side of town, overlooking Buda. Public drinking is permitted, so bring a bottle of wine! The view is indescribably beautiful. My friend and I literally gasped when all the lights on the bridges and castles in Buda were lit. This is definitely one of those moments that will stay with me forever.

The Best Thing About Budapest… Ruin Bars 🤘

I know that after a day of exploring the city, either in the scorching sun or the freezing winter wind, it isn’t easy to go out and party at night, but when in Budapest, RUIN BARS ARE A MUST! I also recommend checking them out during the day. It’s a completely different experience since you’ll be able to appreciate the random decor best during daylight. 

Here are Some Ruin Bars I Got to Visit:

Szimpla

This is the most popular one in Budapest, and for GOOD REASON. It has maaany bars to choose from. Most have similar menus and prices with slight variations. For instance, some carry craft beers. This is definitely one of the bars with a completely different vibe at day vs. night. During the day you’ll notice all the random objects, plants, paintings, murals, graffitis and mirrors decorating the endless venue. At night, however, you’ll experience the ambiance the colorful lights give, as well as enjoy the local DJs and bands performing.

During the day, make sure you check out the Design shop at the entrance. It has endless creative designs of anything you can think of: jewelry, art, toys, bags, decor, souvenirs, etc. All by local artists. FYI, they’re closed on Mondays. Also, be mindful of the exchange rate. I suck at math and fell for my own mistake, but NO REGRETS, because I bought some original artwork that makes me smile every time I see it in my room.

Red Ruin

It is not the biggest ruin bar, but definitely worth checking out. It has some interesting art on its walls. Although, I’m not sure how often they update it since it seemed like fresh paint.

Instant

Known as a nightclub, but you can still go in casual clothes like in all ruin bars. It’s up to you if you rather dress to impress or be comfortable for a long night out. I personally, like doing a bit of both, with a cute cotton dress and sneakers, but lipstick on because “primero muerta que sencilla”… you get cool points if you understand this saying. 😉

Quick Tip Worth Knowing

Remember that Hungary’s currency is the Hungarian Florints (HUF or FTS). As of August 2018, 300 HUF is about 1 EUR. Not easy to remember, so be mindful of the conversion rate. Especially when tourist places charge in EUR.

OTP Bank
I got cash from several ATM machines and found out that OTP Bank near the center only charged the equivalent of about 1 EUR for the withdrawal. The exchange rate was also the best in comparison to other banks.

Food… The Number One Reason for Traveling!

For Sale Pub

Do not be fooled by the name. This place was recommended by a local when I mentioned I wanted to try some legit Goulash. For Sale Pub has a “cowboy saloon” look and feel. It covered with random decor like hay on the ground and peanut peels all over the floor. The food, however, is very Hungarian. The portions are HUGE. I wasn’t able to finish my Goulash, so I took it back to my hostel and had it for dinner for the next 3 days! The food is not only big, but it’s also delicious and quite homey. The Goulash came with all the sides you pour into the stew. It very much reminded me of Mexican pozole.

Vegan Garden

I’m not sure if it’s only open during the summer, but we kept coming back to this cute little garden during our short visit. The Vegan Garden has food trucks with all types of food, and of course, a bar where you could play Hungarian trivia. My favorite dish I tried here was the vegan gyro pizza that I still dream about! I completely adore Tzaziki sauce, and the fact that it’s dairy-free, made me want to overdose on it!

Best Souvenirs Shops

Always remember to be mindful of the exchange rate.

Paprika Market

This shop offered the largest variety of souvenirs, as well as the some of the best prices. There are other local shops that had more creative designs of magnets, postcards, etc, but Paprika has everything with paprika! From honey to jam and even Pálinka with paprika.

Pálinka is the local liquor. It has a high alcohol percentage and it’s mostly fermented with different fruits such as pear, grape, berries, etc. My favorite was the spicy version I tried at this market. I, unfortunately, did not purchase a small bottle so I could get a bigger one at the airport. BIG MISTAKE. Nobody else carries Pálinka with paprika. If you like spicy food or drinks, I suggest you ask for a sample. You’re also able to taste the many and diverse sauces, jams, and honey available. People at this shop, and all over Budapest for that matter, are the friendliest.

There are plenty of other things to see and places to visit while in Budapest. I didn’t include all the gorgeous and unique castles in Buda nor the street art, which I’ll save for another post. I’m sure you’ll enjoy your time in Budapest no matter what you do. Other nearby cities I recommend are Vienna, Prague, and Krakow. Have fun and remember, even when the weather is bad, BE PRESENT and enjoy every moment! Follow me on Instagram for updates on travel pics and tips @joyzcortez

 

The Best of Vienna (on a Budget)

How to Communicate in Austria

German is the common language in Austria. Most people I spoke with understood and spoke English, yet it’s always a good idea to learn the basics when visiting another country.

  • Please = bitte (pronounced bitter)
  • Thank you = danke (like anchor with a d in front)
  • Hello (formal) = Grüßgott (groose-got)
  • Hello (informal) = Servus (sair-vuss)
  • Goodbye (formal) = Auf Wiedersehen (owf-vee-duh-zane)
  • Goodbye (informal)
    – Tschüss (choos; Austrogerman)
    – Baba (bah-bah; Viennese)
    – Ciao (quite acceptable)

Where to Stay on a Budget

Wombat’s Hostel
Cool place to meet people.
Centric
The hostel has everything BUT A/C.
Cheap drinks (including a free one for guests) at the bar.
Lots of places for chilling, including a naturally lit cafe/lounge area used for breakfast.
There’s a larger one in Budapest. It’s located in the Jewish Quarter (District VII).

Where to Eat on a Budget

Kolar
Good, local spot in the Jewish Quarter. Kind of hidden so keep an eye.
Good prices and large location, including terrace and many indoor tables.
Has a wide variety of local brews and serves a sort of calzone in pita bread… sooo good!
Service was great and people spoke English, even the ones who didn’t, tried their best to understand us. There’s WiFi so you can use Google Translate for any specifics like dietary restrictions.

The Best of Austrian Food

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Schnitzel (breaded and flattened lamb or pork)

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Sacher cake (dense chocolate cake)


Best Places to Visit for Foodies

Cafe Frauenhuber
This place is a bit fancier, hence, a bit pricier. You can get a drink or simply walk by the cafe where Mozart and Beethoven used to play.
If you’ve saved up for at least one nice dinner, this place serves great local food, including the schnitzel, which is a must-try in Vienna if you have no dietary restrictions.

Cafe Central
First coffee shop in Vienna. Freud and Trotsky used to visit.
It’s supposed to be the most centric location in Vienna. Meaning that this coffee house is right in the middle of Vienna.

Figlmueller
THE place for Schnitzel. Reservations are required and can be made through the website. Be prepared for a huge proportion if you get the Schnitzel. It is meant for sharing.

Beautiful Places to See in Vienna 

vienna-1567865_1920.jpgSt. Stephen’s Cathedral
Medieval Cathedral from the Roman Empire. It has since been restored, and like everything in Vienna, is it immaculate.
There are classical concerts performed inside the Cathedral. I recommend checking the website for schedule and pricing.
Most walking tours depart from the Cathedral since it’s a centric location that connects with many shops and restaurants.

konzerte-im-mozarthausMozarthaus
Mozart lived and composed in this apartment in the 1700s for many years. This is an expensive area, and it is said that the cost of living here is what bankrupt him.
It has since been restored and now offers tours.
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Synagogue
A beautiful synagogue, now a Holocaust memorial site.
You can book a tour and see the interior.

Sigmund Freud Museum
The museum is basically an apartment. You literally have to get buzzed in to come in, both to the building, then to the apartment.
Even with student discount, it was more than I was expecting to pay. We opted for not going in since, from what we could see from the entrance, it was mainly composed of books and sketches. I could read these from my local library for free, I thought.

1200px-Wien_-_Schloss_Belvedere,_oberes_(2).JPGBelvedere Palace
The palace is further from the center. You’ll have to take the metro or light rail there. The price for a 100min ride is 2.40 EUR… not the cheapest. Still, you don’t have to enter the Palace, which is now a museum, to appreciate its beauty.

penacho_de_moctezuma_1000x793.JPGWeltmuseum Wien
My fellow Mexicans can enter this museum for free since it hosts “El Penacho de Moctezuma”.  A beautifully hand-made headdress with feathers and gold pieces. It was originally used as a sort of crown for Moctezuma II, the Aztec emperor during the Spanish Conquest. No similar pieces remain in Mexico, and according to the Weltmuseum, this piece would not survive the transatlantic flight. Hence, the free entrance to Mexican citizens to the museum. So bring your Mexican passport or IFE!

image_gallery.jpegRathaus
My friend and I found it ironically hilarious that the city call is called “Rathaus”.
Despite its name, the Rathaus is a beautiful and massive building. It holds multiple events. During the summer, I had the fortune of attending the summer film fest. The exterior is surrounded by pop up restaurants and bars, with plenty of seating facing a large screen playing films. I attended a space opera conducted by Venezuelan conductor, Gustavo Dudamel. Needless to say, this was an out of the world experience… get it? Because it’s a space opera?…. [Crickets].

20180726_124237Street Art

Last but not least, my favorite… street art.
Vienna has an amazing and extensive street art scene that goes along the river.
You can start your walk here. During the summer, they have local bands playing next to the river in the evenings.
To appreciate the art, I recommend walking along the river as far as you can. It goes along the metro line so you don’t feel like you’re stranded and heading to nowhere.
These murals have been approved by the city, but of course, there also a few rebel designs floating around.

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I hope you enjoy your time in Vienna. Other, relatively near, cities that I greatly recommend are Prague, Krakow, and Budapest. Follow me on Instagram @joyzcortez for updates on new posts! Remember to enjoy every moment of your trip, even when getting lost or tired, focus on the good things and BE PRESENT!

More info:
List of all places in Google Maps
Visiting Vienna

A bit about moi

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Plaza Mayor in Madrid

moving to another continent was no easy task, but nothing worthwhile is.

My name is Joyce and I was born in Mexico, in a bordering state with the U.S. on the Northwest called Baja California. I moved to sunny LA when I was young where I lived for many years before moving to Madrid.

Going from one country to another, and switching languages was the norm through out my life. Living in California, I got to meet people from all over the world, try all kinds of food, experience diverse cultures and hear a lot of different languages. I considered myself an open-minded and quite an international person. I thought I could experience other cultures through people. I was naive.

Thriving in LA by working in the digital entertainment field helped me accomplish my first goals in life: get my Bachelor’s Degree in Film, get a job in the entertainment industry, have benefits such as 401K and healthcare, etc. I got bored of being an adult and decided to drop it all and become a digital nomad, starting in Spain. The timing was right and my friends and family supported my decision. It was too good of an opportunity to pass.

Like any big change in life, moving to another continent was no easy task, but nothing worthwhile is. During my first year in Madrid, I traveled to 10 countries and countless cities. I left my introverted shell and met so many wonderful people. I learned so much from these travels, some of them solo. I, by no means, consider myself an expert. Still, I hope other people, especially other solo female travelers, will learn from both my advice and mistakes; the biggest takeaway is to always BE PRESENT.